County gets $500,000 for upgrades, improvements, entertainment –
By Patricia Beech –
Kids across Adams County could beat the summer heat with some water fun if local city governments opt to install Splash Pads in their villages, courtesy of funds provided by the state of Ohio’s biennial capital budget.
The capital budget, which funds improvements to roads, schools, universities, public buildings, and dozens of other community projects, was signed into law on Friday, March 30 by Governor John Kasich.
Adams County will receive $550,000 of the $2.62 billion budget, which includes $250,000 for the four new splash parks.
The Adams County Economic and Community Development Office (ACECDO) will divide the $250,000 among the villages across the county.
ACECDO Director Holly Johnson said her department hopes to bring healthy and fun entertainment to the children of Adams County by installing the splash pads.
“Currently, there are no public swimming pools in Adams County which means there is nothing for the kids to do throughout the summer to cool off in high temperatures,” said Johnson. “When temperatures rise outside most children go indoors and remain sedentary. These splash parks will give them an opportunity to engage in an active lifestyle.”
Additionally, to ensure that all the splash parks are handicap compliant, the economic development office will partner with Debbie Ryan, Coordinator of the Creating Healthy Communities Program in Adams County.
“We continue to build partnerships to help bring funding to the county to provide more physical activity opportunities that benefit everyone,” said Ryan. “The recently released County Health Rankings show that we have to do more, and splash pads are a great opportunity that many other counties in Ohio have already implemented.“
In the County Health Rankings, compiled by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Adams County was ranked last among Ohio’s counties, and scored only 40 percent in ‘access to exercise opportunities’. Access is defined as living within a half-mile radius of a park or playground or in a three mile radius of a recreational facility.
“Splash pads are a unique way to increase access to recreation opportunities that are usually free and open to the public,” said Leeann Puckett, member of the Adams County Health and Wellness Coalition, “The documented benefits of splash pads include helping children with balance, strength, coordination, and social skills, and they are available to people with all abilities.”
Johnson said in coming months her office will reach out to all the major villages to determine which towns are interested in participating in the program. She said splitting the funding between the villages guarantees that more children will be within walking distance of the splash parks.
“The close proximity of the splash parks in the villages will eliminate the problem most local families may have in finding transportation to activities for their children,” she said, adding that there were additional benefits for the larger community.
“A county has to be marketable, it has to have places where you can go to have fun and relax, and these splash parks will give our community a desirable and marketable activity to attract residents, as well as visitors who have come to enjoy Adams County,” Johnson added. “They’ll provide hours of exciting outdoor entertainment and give our villages the necessary public services that keep residents satisfied and connected in their communities.”
According to Johnson, funding dollars will be evenly split between the villages that choose to install the splash pads. Additionally, she said her department will be applying for additional grants to increase the amount of funding that goes to each village.
Villages that choose to participate will be responsible for upkeep and maintenance, which Johnson points out is far less than the costs of operating a public swimming pool.
“Our goal isn’t to bankrupt villages that choose this option,” she said. “Our goal is to make sure all our kids have a safe place where they can participate in healthy outdoor activities and have fun.”
In addition to the splash pads, the capital budget also allocated $250,000 for upgrades to the Wilson’s Childrens Home, and $50,000 for continued improvements at Serpent Mound Park.
In fact, the passage of Ohio’s 2018 Capital Budget will see several projects come to fruition across southern Ohio, according to State Senator Joe Uecker (R-District 14).
Uecker said that Adams, Brown, Clermont, and Scioto counties will share approximately $2.96 million in capital budget funding for needful community projects. In total, $950,000 is expected to be invested in Adams and Brown counties under the bill.
“I am happy to join my Senate colleagues in passing legislation that has such a large impact on our community,” Uecker told Damon Huff of Maysville’s Ledger Independent. “It will be great to see these projects unfold and come to fruition in the coming months.”
Johnson agreed, saying, “It’s good to live in a community that demonstrates it cares about its citizens by providing those things which can enrich life and stoke the fires of imagination.”